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Why is humour often grave?

Grave Humor Book Cover Grave Humor
A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) #14
R. J. Blain
Fiction, paranormal, urban famtasy
Pen & Page Publishing
May 12, 2020
386

Most days, Anwen regrets working at a funeral home. With the residents no longer inclined to stay in their coffins where they belong, she's got her hands full making sure everyone follows the rules: In the funeral home, there is no screaming, no murdering, no mutilation, no possessions, no kidnappings, no resurrections, and no cursing of any type. Be quiet and stay polite. The day Old Man McGregor decides to take a walk and disturbs her peace, Anwen learns there's a lot more to the basement in the funeral home than a vampire and a handsome gentleman on ice. If she's not careful, she'll learn first-hand why 'eternally yours' is the most potent of threats. Warning: this novel contains romance, humor, bodies, shenanigans, and mythological puppies. Proceed with caution.

Part of a long series with bodies….

This was a good length and so it was long enough to complete a story in one book. No need for a sequel here and I enjoyed reading through whole.

Just a couple of minor grouches from me though – 1. For me it seemed there was too much emphasis on the Aramaic pantheon; and 2. I got seriously confused at times when the characters were explaining all the different relationships within the angelic host and others. This just needed to be simplified down for those not familiar with this pantheon and the way angels and their various families are linked.

I had not realised, until I looked it up, that angels are common to many religions including Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. Of course Medieval scholars managed to make it all very complicated and to have many different choirs of angels and thrones etc but the one thing that most agree on is that Azrael holds a rather benevolent role as the angel of death, wherein he acts as a psychopomp, responsible for transporting the souls of the deceased after death. I have come across the concept of a psychopomp before in Christine Bauer’s work so this was at least familiar to me. But of course, each religion has a different take on angels – names, roles and hierarchy too.

I’m glad that I didn’t give up though. As I found that the story kept me interested and I loved the Mausoleum and graveyard. Anwen was an interesting heroine and I loved her chats with the dead and the loved the way the dead behaved too.

A different world again – but as the angels and others keep hinting – each world that the universe  builds lasts only a time – and then is destroyed for some reason and another world appears and magic appears in this new world at some point too. But each world acquires its magic at a different point in its history. Some characters in these stories live through multiple worlds – often by sleeping for long periods. Interesting thought and philosophy.

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Pinkertons rule

An Agent for Dixie Book Cover An Agent for Dixie
The Pinkerton Matchmaker series
by Linda Carroll-Bradd
Historical Fiction | Romance
Backlit PR
Pub Date 8 May 2020

Foreign diplomacy is the Zivon family business but Alexei resists the polite constraints, not lasting a year in law school. The four successful years working as a Pinkerton agent prove he was meant to follow a different path. Now, he’s faced with the biggest challenge of his career—training a female agent who has no practical skills. Alexei figures he can convince her to just observe as he solves the case, because nothing will interfere with his success rate.
Since childhood, Dixie LaFontaine lived in her older sister’s shadow but applying to become a Pinkerton Agent is her first major decision. Being matched with confident Alexei is intimidating, especially when the assigned case involves them pretending to be brother and sister at a health spa where jewelry has gone missing. Dixie has no qualms about pretending to be a French heiress needing care for her arthritis. Soon, she falls victim to Alexei’s charm and realizes that hiding her feelings might be as hard as ferreting out the thief among the spa’s clientele.
Will Dixie focus on learning the skills of an agent, or will she concentrate on turning her marriage of convenience into a lasting love?

I rather liked this historical novel about the beginnings of the Pinkerton Agency. Dixie of course, was again our innocent heroine,  but with a twist, she could speak fluently a lot of languages, which meant that she had skills that would be useful as a private eye.

I had never realized that of course, in this era, you couldn’t partner a single woman and a single man together because of scandal, and thus marriages of convenience would have to take place.

I did think her announcement at the spa of why she had a male fawning on her was risqué, and am not sure how that would have been taken, but it was a fun idea. I was unaware that paraffin wax for arthritis was a known treatment then. But spas certainly were.

I liked this story.

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Grimy Manchester and Murder

Where the Innocent Die Book Cover Where the Innocent Die
DI Ridpath Book Four
M J Lee
Fiction
Canelo
March 23, 2020
320

Nowhere is safe. No one can be trusted. A bloodied body is found in a Manchester Immigrant Removal Centre. The investigating officer and the pathologist seem certain: a suicide. But for DI Ridpath something doesn’t add up. As the evidence starts to unravel, and with few leads, the pressure is on to find answers before the Inquest is closed. Caught between the police, the coroner and a system that doesn’t care, Ridpath isn’t making any friends. And at the centre of the case Ridpath will find a heart of darkness. Innocent people are suffering. How many more will die before Ridpath discovers the truth? The fourth instalment of the unputdownable DI Ridpath series is perfect fans of Mark Billingham and Patricia Gibney.

So this is Detective Ridpath again in the Coroner’s Office and there is a death in a Detainee Centre and he is asked to investigate it and confirm the findings as the Inquest was due – the parents had flown over from China to take their daughter’s body home. The Coroner did not want to postpone the inquest because of this.

The pathologist had identified the death as suicide but there was one factor that confused Ridpath. Despite all the doors to the rooms being locked by 9.15pm and the inmates being unable to unlock them, the girl’s door was unlocked – which was why her death had been discovered in the wee hours of the morning as the ‘officer’ made his rounds. And then the camera outside her room had been disabled – as had 5 others in the facility.

 Ridpath has to work fast to discover the truth of the death which turns out, as one could expect, to be rather more complicated than the initial findings.

The story proceeds – and Manchester is portrayed in its grimy, grey self accurately – and yes, people retiring wanted to get away to somewhere warmer – it drove our daughter, once she had lived there a few months, to Australia!

 I like these stories and hope Ridpath stays with the Coroner’s Office as it makes a definite change of storyline from the usual major incident squads.

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Notorious – they will be

Notorious Minds Boxset: Book Cover Notorious Minds Boxset:
Mystery & Thriller Crime Boxed Set
various
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Fire Quill Publishing
Publication date: October 13th 2020
kindle

Delve into these dark and twisted tales by twenty USA Today and International Bestselling Authors. No matter what kind of crime story typically catches your imagination, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Conspiracies, political plots, and yes, even murder, are just a few of the crimes waiting inside this box set. Discover a narcissistic grandmother running an underground syndicate, or a support group bent on murder…and even a serial killer who turns his victims into fairytale creatures. Uncover the passion, jealousy, and fear lingering in every tale. This box set is packed with thousands of pages that will hold you on the edge of your seat, crying for answers. Definitely a must for fans of Patterson, Lee, and Grisham.

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How to Fall Properly

Falling Into Right Book Cover Falling Into Right
A Redemption County Novel
Sharon Kay
Crime Fiction, Police Dogs
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
October 24, 2017
292

How do you recover when life kick-boxes your soul? Becca Gable is fighting to stay on her feet after a series of crushing losses. She's always been the good girl until the events of the past year push her to make a mistake she can't take back. Now, her corporate finance job and her fiancé are gone thanks to her newly-acquired criminal record. Shane Marlow survived an IED blast during his service in Iraq-but half his team did not. Physically healed, he returns to his home county as a K9 officer. The scars of loss run deep and though local folks admire him, no one truly gets him-until Becca literally lands in front of him. Their bond of shared tragedy evolves into a connection both fiery and healing. But a stalker decides that Becca's crime should stay front and center. As the unsettling episodes reveal that no part of her life is secret, Shane is all that stands between her and the enemy.

Shane Marlow and Denver – yes please – especially Denver. I haven’t read the previous book in this series so this was my introduction to this pair – but what novel doesn’t like a hero with a working dog?

I know that a lot of soldiers have come back from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the US with PTSD and that many of them have really struggled with it as they have not had the right treatment, for whatever reason. And this leads to problems in their working and personal life. A dog can be an emotional support as well as useful partner in work and they have been recognised as such worldwide – though quite how a turkey could be I am not sure –  Now I could also get pot bellied pigs, monkeys and miniature horses, but bearded dragons, kangaroos, peacocks – lots of birds including ducks too – rodents, spiders, reptiles, ferrets  – and the list continues have all been claimed as emotional support – especially to get them on a plane! See https://bestlifeonline.com/emotional-support-animals/ for 30 of the weirdest claims.

 But despite the wide variety of animals being used for emotional support these days – myself I prefer the cat variety! And have 2 Maine Coons now to provide me with some love.. and stroking soothes both of us.

There is also, of course, the story of Becca and how she breaks the law – for a good reason – but this where we have problems.

I saw a discussion on how TV makes law breaking ‘for the right reason’ become a justifiable crime and people shouldn’t be punished for it. This is also a prevalent them in many novels. It makes for a good story of course – especially if the criminal either gets punished and comes out to help other prisoners onto the ‘right’ road; or the criminal finds the right path for themselves and gets forgiven or – well you know what I mean. Sometimes they continue to break the law and as readers we cheer for them – as they are ‘doing good’ and the law is wrong. But who are we to judge? And when are ‘we’ the right ‘we’ to judge? And then we start getting onto a very sticky wicket indeed and we can talk about the societal contract and how society can judge right from wrong. But what if the majority agree with a law that you personally don’t?

I’m not going further into this, but I am beginning to wonder if society’s fiction, whether on a screen or in a book/written form, is, in some way, mind washing us to a moral code that makes it difficult for us to judge right from wrong.

All the above notwithstanding. I enjoyed reading this story and liked it enough to give it 3 stars. I’m detracting 1 star for my above discussion on law.

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